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App Store Squatting?

10-10-2009, 01:39 PM
#1
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: In My Head
Posts: 3,358
App Store Squatting?

Looks like the new thing to do in the app store is yep you read it - Name squatting, similar to the ones that squat domain names. Only problem? You can't tell who is doing it.... Developer Atomic Antelope seems ready to launch their new game Twitch but seems they can't use the name they want too... http://www.atomicantelope.com/news/

"After months of hard work, late nights and opiates, Twitch is ready to launch. This game is really going to change the way your fingers interact with your iPhone and iPod Touch. We can’t wait to get it out there.
We seem to have hit a bit of a snag though.
A few days ago we went to submit Twitch to the app store. We’d searched the store earlier in the development process, to make sure that no one else had used the name. But what’s this? The submission form tells us that someone else is using the name of our app. But how can this be when there is no app called Twitch in the app store?
We dug a little deeper.
As an experiment, we tried some other names. We tried, “Twitch!”. This was also not available.
But, hold up, there is no app called “Twitch!” on the app store either. So, we tried “Twitch.” (Twitch with a dot after it). This was available, but an ugly hack.
What is going on?
You can squat the app store
It turns out that squatters have moved into the app store. They’re worse than domain name squatters though, because you can’t even enter into negotiation with them. You don’t know who they are, or where they are. They take advantage of the fact that a developer can pretend to submit an app, but abandon their submission at the last moment, avoiding the need to actually create an application, but keeping hold of the app’s name. In limbo. Forever.
So, who are these people and what are they doing with the names they squat? Are they selling them on? Are they squatting on the name until they think up a decent app idea? Or, like domain name squatters, are they just aimlessly annoying the huge numbers of people who just want to create something useful?
So now, like other developers who have been targeted by squatters, we have to change the name of our app. There’s no way we can find out who is squatting Twitch. We’re not the only ones hit by this, it’s happening more and more to others.
These squatters are ruthless.
We have a message for those annoying space cadets who are squatting names all over the app store: Stop it, just stop it. You’re ruining it for people who’ve put time and energy into real projects.
Right, now back to rebranding our game, which is amazing regardless. A rose by any other name… etc. Deep breaths."
- Chris Stevens

Gamecenter:1337brian
10-10-2009, 02:52 PM
#2
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Toronto Canada
Posts: 863
I blogged about this back in May. After that experience I decided to squat the name for my next game, 'cause the branding art is done and I don't want to do it again. I'm not about to start squatting a bunch of random "cool" names just to screw other people however.

On a side note, the app name that was squatted out from under me in May still isn't a live app.

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10-10-2009, 03:06 PM
#3
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: St-Hubert (Quebec), Canada
Posts: 133
That's really bad :-(

But it is also another reason why we are using a code name for all of our projects. When we get near the point when we will have to announce our games I think we will have no choice to pre-submit our stuff just to make it then it is lock for our own use.

This is really quite annoying indeed, especially if you already started to promote/marketing your game and have to change everything. A lot of energy wasted as you will have to redo it again so people know of the name change.
10-10-2009, 03:52 PM
#4
This is a very interesting development.

I can certainly empathise with people whose game names have been taken. I've had to change three of my game names because sometime between me starting my project and then checking the name again, somebody released a game with the same title.

At least they made a game, eh?

I've got several projects in various states of readiness, and I want to submit them to the app store, then remove them, to guarantee that the name and idea have been logged on a certain date, even if the game isn't finished yet. I fully intend to finish these projects, but it's just safeguarding the name.

Could it be these so called 'squatters' are doing the same perhaps?
10-10-2009, 04:26 PM
#5
Chris,

I have to disagree with you here.

I don't think that many devs squat on cool names except they are really working on those apps. There is not a lot of evidence that abuse really happens besides there are always a few typical abusers. See, the point of domain name squatting, which is indeed very common, is to be able to (re)sell those when they are in need. As it is not possible in the appstore to find out who "owns" a blocked name, it is generally pointless to block a good name except you want to use it for your own games or you have a strange sense of competitive thinking (which might backfire heavily as I will explain below).

Again, no offense, it seems you did not know about the blocking. So you fell into a hidden trap in this wild west we all try to survive in and I can understand you are frustrated. But you are generalizing it into a problem that really is none yet, plus, I dare to say, now that you understand how it works you will use this from now on by yourself. I am sure you checked availability before and blocked your new name now, and you should.

You didn't mention if you trademarked the name of the game you "put several months of hard work in", so I want to point out here that there is still the old-fashioned method to protect a game name: Trademarks. And Apple has proven several times that they are very sensitive to oblige to legal owners of trademarks.

As a general advise at this point as I am at times amazed how loosely people treat their own investments: Devs, if you work several months on a game, a Trademark on the name is your PRIMARY protection of your IP and even if you don't get it in the end, it is absolutely worth trying.

And just a comment for those who DO app-squat: If you sit on an appname and someone else gets the Trademark before you release, you will have a problem. So either "squat and pay" at the same time or forget about it in the first place This is different than with domains where a domain name is functional and visible the moment you allocate it.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, anything I write can be wrong and should not be taken as a basis for any decision without consulting with a lawyer. I am in fact just as the other poster developing a major game and I have both the name allocated (funny enough also since may and I am developing that game since then) and I have the trademark registration going and I am really glad that Apple features this option, used in a responsible and meaningful way it is very helpful for developers. As long as it is not out of control, I think there is no need to change the concept.

All the best,

Markus
10-12-2009, 03:38 AM
#6
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 235
I believe you can use Twitch and add some extra title after it. When people search it will still come up on iTunes.

I did a search for Twitch and the first app I see is "birdJam Twitch"

Maybe using a 2 word title might help. iTunes has this keyword search feature so you could probably use "twitch" as a keyword to search for.

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10-12-2009, 06:42 AM
#7
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Amsterdam, NL
Posts: 68
Frank, I think it was your post I originally read at the time I started researching App Store naming allowances. From domains to usernames on popular services, squatting has been a haunting specter for some time, and it's one of the first things that jumps to my mind when joining a new market or community. Anyway, I'm glad you made that post because I immediately registered and "squatted" my two development projects.

Like Markus suggests, those names are in holding during the course of development, and squatted with the intent to use. After years on the web, I'm no longer surprised when somebody conceives the same crazy cocktail of phraseology and power words as me; in fact I now expect it.

Stake your claim as soon as possible, and don't be resentful because your precious monosyllabic dictionary word was picked up by someone else first. The price of performant keywords is that they're the same keywords everyone thinks of first when reflecting on the subject at hand.

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10-14-2009, 08:42 AM
#8
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 46
I think I have to agree with Travis here. While I absolutely think that squatting on app names with no intent to use them is a miserable practice, it's just the same deal as domain names and trade marks before them. If you're going to invest any time tailoring to a specific name, it really just makes sense to secure it in some way first.

The other side of the coin is that having the trade mark trumps all. If you have a trademarked name and someone else tries to squat on it (app name or domain name), higher authorities (Apple and WIPO, respectively) will be on your side in the matter.

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10-14-2009, 09:28 AM
#9
Joined: May 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 741
I suppose the only way to tell if it's really 'squatting' would be if a developer discovered, on trying to submit, that the app name he had been publicising for a while turned out to be taken. Of course the 'squatter' wouldn't even know the developer was trying to use it. All they could do would be to mail the dev and offer to sell the name. I've never heard of that happening.

Anyway, thanks for starting this thread, it made me realise there is a risk so I'm now 'squatting' on the name Ground Effect but only for a week or so I hope...

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